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Why I chose to share my story about my divorce? It wasn’t for fame or money.

'Rewriting My Happily Ever After' by Dr Ranjani Rao is an evocative, honest account of the aftermath of divorce in an unsupportive culture. Yet, this uplifting story of grace and courage shows how to build resilience and find happiness by being true to yourself.

When Facebook began to gain popularity about 15 years ago, I intentionally stayed away. It wasn’t because the platform was bad, it was the timing. I had walked out of my long marriage in India and was in a state of limbo. Although I lived separately from my husband and managed my life as a single parent, I was unsure about proceeding with the formal divorce.

Why?

I hesitated for the same reasons quoted by many women from India, South Asia and other cultures where divorce is frowned upon.

A bond made in heaven

Breaking the bond of marriage which is considered sacred and even transcends death (as per lore and legends) is not easy. Besides the trauma of voluntarily exiting from a relationship that you hoped would be the most intimate, fulfilling one, there were social factors to consider.

What will people say? What will parents say? What about my child? How will I manage alone?

I didn’t have answers to these questions.

Even more importantly, I had to figure out the practical aspects of my day-to-day life. These social questions could wait.

The most difficult part of those three years that I spent vacillating between the freedom from an unhappy marriage and the prospect of the rest of my life as a divorced woman, was not knowing anyone else who had walked this path.

Perhaps I should have joined Facebook then. All I knew about it was that it was a useful tool to connect with people, restore long-lost friendships and a great way to show off the glamorous parts of your perfect life. I had neither the time nor patience for such frivolous activities.

Finding answers on Facebook

A couple of years ago I joined Facebook. Not to make trace forgotten friends but to gather evidence. With my divorce firmly behind me, I had stepped into the nebulous future that I had once dreaded. My child was now firmly on her way to adulthood and I had moved to another country.

A friend was trying to convince me to write a book about my divorce. I was curious about women who were considering, going through or finding their way after divorce. Perhaps Facebook could give me a clue.

After creating an account on Facebook, I joined several relevant groups. In these large online communities, women (and men) shared their journey through separation and divorce. They were located across the globe and represented a wide range of age groups, people with and without kids, and dealing with a range of problems exacerbated by their situation.

Women were sharing their ups and downs. From building furniture, buying a new car or setting up their business, the posts ranged from initial shock and self-doubt to photos that showed them conquering common fears and attaining unimaginable goals. It felt good to see the sisterhood figuring out their life and thriving. While there was a lot of venting about the unfairness of their life, there were many celebratory posts.

Is there a need for a memoir about life after divorce?

While I had been writing and publishing personal essays about my life in general, I had not tackled a full-length book dealing with the painful three-year period of my life when I was lonely, confused and unsure of what lay ahead for me and my daughter. 

The pandemic had a catalytic effect on my doubts. I decided to write my memoir. I took a conscious decision to not dwell on the reasons for the breakdown of my marriage but on what happens after you leave a relationship that is not easy to shrug off. I knew I wanted to document my feelings in the days and months that followed my decision to walk out of my marriage. But what should I focus on, I wondered?

I turned towards the data from the Facebook groups that catered to this demographic.

In the second decade of the twenty-first century, women across the world were still struggling with the basics – poor financial literacy, anxiety about safety and security, work-life balance, lack of support and decision making skills, low self-confidence, concerns about their reputation and ability to live alone.

I had struggled with each of these. And found a way. 

That’s when I decided that the slant of my book would be towards empowerment. No commiserating, no melodrama, no whining or playing victim, but simply describing how I took one step at a time and moved ahead to come up with a path that made sense for me given the cards I had been dealt.

Books matter

My journey towards independence and finding happiness by being true to myself felt extra lonely because I didn’t have a book as a companion and a guide during this difficult time. Despite having the support of my family and the reassurance of a circle of well-wishers, no one I knew had walked this path before. 

How will I fare? Will I survive? Will I triumph? Will I become a bitter cynical person cursing fate or rise above the pettiness that failure can ferment and become a stronger, kinder and grateful person? I had no way of knowing.

To me, books have been faithful companions and wise guides on my life journey. Since I could not find a book to help me during the most difficult period of my life, I decided to take Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s advice to heart – “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

 I wrote my book to help other women who may be struggling at the same crossroads as I once did. If you (or someone in your circle) need to read this book, please know that you are not alone. 

You deserve to be happy. 

Take the first step towards making that happen.

Order your copy of Rewriting My Happily Ever After here.

 

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